A Magical Thing Happened over a Bridge in Old Tampa Bay

“Here comes the rain again.” Annie serenaded, while Mick gravely warned, “Oh, a storm is threatening / My very life today / If I don’t get some shelter / Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away.”

The rain was torrential, coming down as hard when my parents picked me up from Tampa International Airport, and soon after we were driving south on 275 crossing the choppy waters of Old Tampa Bay along the highway-bridge, when I spotted a massive object in the air into the far distance, almost unreal and perhaps magical. My eyes were deceiving me I thought, so I kept adjusting my glasses, thinking perhaps the transitional lens was not doing its job. The storm clouds were dark and ominous, the winds gusting hard with the rain, further impairing my line of sight. I just didn’t know what it was. It took a long while to catch up to this beast, the whole time I was thinking it just wasn’t real so seemingly out of place, a huge stationary cardboard cutout that was perhaps attached to the bridge (from where I couldn’t tell), and yet it seemed to be both getting bigger and bigger yet getting further and further away.

Finally we were catching up, and I was starting to make out what it was. It was the most magical thing I’d seen in a long time, so mesmerized that I did not even think to bring my phone up to video it, frozen in thought just looking at it. As I write this I am still upset at myself for not taking a video. But perhaps like the unicorn, it was not meant to be recorded, only admired and enjoyed, a permanent memory, poignant and beautiful, etched in my mind.

As we finally caught up and drove by it, the pelican, not moving a single part of its body, simply and majestically glided through the air. In a weirdly ugly way, the pelican was extremely beautiful. The skies an angry dark black, blue and grey, the rain coming down hard against the waters below it, the pelican was seemingly unaware or more likely uninterested. It was alone in its journey, not another bird within miles of it. And yet it didn’t seem to care. It knew something the rest of us didn’t, its resolve seemingly rock hard in its assertion it was right in where it was going, right where it needed and wanted to be. The “road” less traveled, a trailblazer over the high, rough seas.

And so the pelican did. And the pelican went. For a time, we were keeping pace with each other, it was so close and so big that I felt like I could touch it, but it’s the 21st century, we were bound to “win”. I was sad as the distance between us grew. I looked it in the eye the entire time, though it never met my gaze, as much as I wanted it to. Perhaps when I write this again, the story will change to reflect that we had a symbiotic relationship. We were one, as it glided and I drove.

And so it was on that lonely bridge. Just the two of us with my parents. It glided. We drove.

Epilogue. Because I did not snap a picture or take a video, I was forced to find Google images, and eventually, I just decided to sketch them into my sketchbook and watercolour into my paintbook.

Go Adventure. Go Travel. Go Live.

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